The CSI Effect: Fascism Tutorials On Primetime

copyright bannerVankleek Hill photo header

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CSI’s “Nick Stokes” was the voice of Captain Atom on
the ‘Justice League Unlimited’ [crapfest] cartoon.

Just An Observation Made On A Saturday Morning

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“Space may be the final frontier,
but it’s made in a Hollywood basement.”

Red Hot Chile Peppers

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When Yeltsin was in the process of resigning he warned the world Russia was slipping back into Totalitarianism, but he was a drunk and appeared
foolish so no one listened.

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The Next CSI Effect: You Have No Right To Your Rights

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Over the past few years there has been a growing phenomenon in American courtrooms called “The CSI Effect” which has forced judges in criminal cases to instruct juries programs such as CSI are fictional, and law enforcement agencies do not, in any way, operate like the television program. The judges must explain the fact there are actual uncertainties in the legal system, from gathering evidence to the arrest through to court proceedings.

Judges are actually forced to explain that in most cases results from evidence gathering can take weeks and months to return from labs, and that most of what is shown on CSI is either fictional or unproven. Facial recognition software, for example, is not something most American and Canadian jurisdictions have access to, simply because there are no camera’s conveniently hanging around 99.99902% of crime scenes.

There is another, more insidious effect CSI and similar programs are having… it’s the idea of an infallible state.

It isn’t much of a stretch from believing CSI represents the reality of crime scene investigations to believing in the philosophy of its infallible and omnipresent judiciary system. And it’s when we start believing the tools of The State are infallible that Fascism takes hold, and in our current culture we’ve become entranced by the idea police forces not only use near-magic to capture their suspect but also must be allowed to do whatever it takes to prove to themselves and us the suspect is guilty even before trial.

There have been as many as four different Law & Order programs on NBC each week, then the three CSI programs on CBS along with Fox’s 24. In addition CBS has Cold Case, Close To Home, Criminal Minds, Numbers and NCIS while NBC has Crossing Jordan. Each one of these programs tells viewers that plain-clothed government officials (very rarely are uniformed officers allowed to use these tactics) are never to be questioned. In this way the CSI programs are like first-year University courses on ‘How To Start A Fascist State’.

Causing trouble in the CSI world when a State Official wants to take your DNA or fingerprint without a warrant or even asking for Just Cause is immoral and a sign either of your guilt or that you don’t care about little children who have been raped, mutilated and/or murdered.

All three CBS programs are among the top-five watched programs in America and Canada, and all three teach us that technology in the hands of The State is infallible and law enforcement is most effective when The Citizen has no right to question the authority of The State. Law & Order and 24 would be graduate courses. After the Revolution it will be William Peterson and David Caruso who will be testifying at your trial. They will also be your judges, and the ratings will be through the roof.

It’s very easy to slide into corporate conspiracy theories, but it’s actually simple laziness which is at the root of this cultural fascist comeback. It’s easier for writers to write this crap because they don’t have to explain anything. “Give us your saliva.” / “I want a lawyer.” / “You sick freak! What, you want this baby-rapist to do someone else’s kid?” / “Oh. Right. Here you are then.” That’s easy. Try explaining why civil rights are important in a two-minute segment through a tertiary character: what’s his background? what’s his motivation for saying no? It’s much easier as a writer to develop a format where no explanations are ever needed for saying no to a forensic officer: deniability is a symptom of guilt.

In the CSI world, and especially the Crossing Jordan universe, mistakes are only made when a situation requires one: Jordan needs reinforcing as a broken character in need of repair and redemption. Explanation requires characters, and in CSI there are none. The entire program is based on exposition: Person One learns something and tells Person Two who is standing nearby, Person Three walks into the scene so P-One and P-Two explain to P-Three together. That isn’t a storyline, it’s five minutes of filler spoken with varying intensity.

Fascism is all about ease of use, ease of thought. Fascism is easy, and it is easy to slide into if a society grows too comfortable with itself. And our culture, as a mirror, is reflecting a very comfortable society where no thought is required through most of a weeks primetime viewing. But in order for fascism to properly gain hold in a relatively diverse society it must appeal to many separate groups. These programs provide an interesting counterbalance to the portions of rap culture where everyone either lives in a constant state of criminality or are constantly fighting against a police state.

It is interesting to note that in TV’s fascist world most (99.99904%) of the “characters” enforcing the law are white, and most — if not all — of the “characters” fighting against the state in the rap universe are black (100% minus Em+Em). Fascism is about totalitarianism, it’s about waking up in a country where everyone speaks the same language, prays to the same God, and is the same colour. But attaining such a state requires the still-disparate groups to believe what is being done is for their unique benefit.

The people must believe that more control by The State is needed to create the necessary conditions for their safety, so these programs, with their naive stories about fantasies masquerading as criminal behaviour, prove to the viewer that constitutional rights are a hindrance to The State.

Meanwhile rap pop culture is pounding in the background telling black and white citizens alike that unsavoury people are pissed off enough that they’re getting their 9mm’s and popping some caps in some random asses, essentially driving those who are worried about their ass into wanting more state protection, not less. It’s interesting that Ice-T, a former rapper and a recurring good-guy character on Law & Order SVU, used to front a rap-metal band called “Bodycount” whose first single was a song about killing a whole lot of LAPD officers.

Fascism may require a mob from which society can be saved, but it’s not just any old large group of random people with burning torches and music contracts, it’s reason and intelligence who are the primary enemies of the fascist state: the first ones against the wall are always the educated and the educators.

Fascism, and totalitarianism normally can never imposed except through war (civil war, military coup), but the conditions can take hold in democracies from a “grassroots” movement of intellectual vacancy.

Just something to think about while you watch David Caruso standing on a beach, acting through his sunglasses, praying you don’t notice how truly ridiculous his program is.

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About Gabriel

I’ve lived in fifty-two places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in American Politics, Canadian Politics, Civil Rights, CSN:AFU Columns, Facism, NBC News, Punk. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The CSI Effect: Fascism Tutorials On Primetime

  1. traxiom says:

    Check out the paper from Yokohama National University, “Impact of Artificial Gummy Fingers on Fingerprint Systems.” It’s a classic and should be an the desk of every defense lawyer.

  2. notsaussure says:

    Check out what’s happening here in the UK, come to that; from http://www.politics.co.uk, 23 October:

    ‘There are currently 3.6 million DNA profiles held in a central database, many of which have been included since new laws allowing its expansion were introduced in 2003.

    ‘The Criminal Justice Act allows police to take and keep DNA samples from anyone arrested for an imprisonable offence – regardless of whether they are found guilty.

    ‘Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats in January this year suggested that 140,000 people who were arrested, but never charged or cautioned, have their DNA profile on the national database.

    ‘More than five per cent of the UK population is on the database, compared to an EU average of 1.13 per cent and 0.5 per cent in the US. Civil liberties campaigners have expressed concern at such an intrusion into – often innocent – people’s personal lives.

    ‘However, today Mr Blair said: “I think the politicians are more resistant than the public. I think the public think if this is helping us track down murderers, rapists…then go for it.”

    ‘He praised Operation Advance, which uses DNA testing to re-analyse samples in “cold” cases and has so far secured 21 convictions, saying: “In this day and age if you’ve got the technology then it’s vital to use that technology to track people down.”

    ‘Asked if there should be any restrictions on the database, the prime minister said: “The number on the database should be the maximum number you can get.”

    And from the BBC news website, 12 December:

    ‘Civil liberties campaigners have expressed concerns over a senior policeman’s idea that taking DNA from babies could help solve crimes.

    ‘Commander Dave Johnston, giving a personal point of view, said that samples could also be taken from people renewing passports and from migrants’

  3. Gabriel says:

    Oh, dude. You have no idea. From the outside looking in Europe has been steadily fascist since about 1901 (give or take 500 years).
    The camera’s and DNA profiling in Britain are nothing compared to what’s going on in France and Spain. Want to immigrate to France? Sure, but you can expect to never work there if you’re brown or muslem. Multiculturalism in Europe seems to work like this: “Hi. You just escaped from a society which feared and hated you, so here’s a community where you can live with those very same people.”
    I’ve been working on a post on this topic for a few days now (give or take a week).
    I know it was supposedly written about Thatcher, but doesn’t “V For Vendetta” seem to work even better as an allegory for the Labour Party? Or France?
    Fear, baby, it’s all about The Fear.

  4. traxiom says:

    US Space and Missile Defense Command has declared women’s medical records “unclassified” and are using them to develop algorithms obstesibley [check spelling] to detect missiles. They’ve teamed up with Walter Reed and WRI (WRI is partnered with a company in Shanghai, China) to assemble the largest distributed db of genetic and “lifestyle” information on women.

    http://www.smdc.army.mil/FactSheets/IAMMDT.pdf

    Couple that sort of shit with new radio graphic technologies and pretty soon they’re going to be able to point a doohickey at you from space and know who you are, what weapons you are or were carrying, who your relatives are, past and future diseases, what you had for lunch, who you’ve fucked, who you’ve talked to on the phone and what you said, everything you’ve written, read, thought..

  5. Gabriel says:

    Well… we’ve got the UK and America, I guess I have to reveal some of Canada’s fascist secrets.

    Until the mid-80’s the RCMP (horse cops who dress in red to outsiders) had the following functions:
    1) they were the local police for districts and provinces which opted into the program (Ontario and Quebec have Provincial Police programs)
    2) They protected all federal and Provincial institutions, like airports, Parliament, the Prime Minister and embassies
    3) They were Canada’s FBI plusplus. They were an internal spy organization, by 1985 they had thick files on over a million Canadians.
    4) They were Canada’s Anti-Terror unit
    5) They pose for tourist photos on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

    Around 1985 the RCMP became the RCMP (policing and protecting) and CSIS — Canadian Security Intelligence Service(spying). Since then the RCMP have been split again with its Anti-Terror unit merging with a military unit to become JTF-2 (Joint Task Force-2). Currently JTF-2 is the most secretive Special Ops force in any democracy anywhere. It is illegal for me, or any other Canadian, or any member of Parliament, to know if and where they are deployed. Look it up. Until last year it was official Canadian policy that JTF did not exist, even though they’ve been in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.
    There’s also the CSE, or Canadian Security Exchange, which still does not officially exist but operates much as America’s NSA.

    Hey… maybe I’ll make this a post.

  6. queenminx says:

    Oh my God! And I liked watching CSI because I thought it was cool a ‘ginger’ guy had a lead part!

    Damn me!

    My priorities are all wrong, so very, very wrong.

    Seriously, one part of me thinks that a ‘National Database’ (UK) is, if not ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ then, to an undetermined degree, a ‘necessary evil’.

    Yet, there is without doubt, the ‘human error’ factor. Stupid, stupid humans!

    e.g. My DNA, given freely and co-operatively, with the belief that ‘I am a good girl I am’: and, instead of my ‘spit-on-a-stick’ being filed in the ‘Driving under the Influence’ category (I won’t specify which/what influence, it could be under the influence of wearing red with green) my spit, is then mistakenly filed in the ‘wrong’ category; the ‘kiddie rapist’ category.

    Try explaining that one.

    I suppose it serves me right for wearing red with green.

  7. Nita says:

    I always suspected that the CSI stuff was simplistic and misleading. I guess they have so little time to show so many things…
    It’s good to have you back Gabriel. Hope to read more stuff from you.

  8. I just can’t believe you dissed the Justice League cartoons.

  9. Gabriel. says:

    I may have been in a mood… but I still remember it sucking. It definitely wasn’t Zim.

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